Water drips from the gutter edges and streams down the bulge of the waterbutt. The ridge beyond the field just a vague blur behind a screen of rain. Its welcome, to some degree, although perhaps not in such instant quantity.
The woods where I walked last evening were dusty and bare, a few withered chanterelles dotted around the shells of slug-eaten ceps – gnawed long before they’d pushed cleared of the leaf litter. We have had plenty of cloud in recent weeks, and patchy squalls, but the deluges that have swollen rivers and smashed reservoir dams up country have eluded us. The Frome is as low as I have seen her, and the Wyn in the valley seems to be pondering the option of going underground.
This rain won’t do much for the water table, and its ferocity will do little for the land. Save soak any crops still standing and swamp the roads and rivers with dislodged topsoil. It’ll put the butterflies down for a day or two as well, and in recent weeks they have been particularly conspicuous.
Some are calling it a ‘butterfly summer’, although the term is itself a vaguity. Summer should always be a good season for butterflies and other pollinators, and although there seems to have been a better flutter this year than for many, numbers remain lower than they would have been a quarter of a century ago. The shift in baseline distorts our view, much like the erratic nature of our climate.
And a good summer, swollen by an influx of painted ladies, should not detract from a poor spring. I have only seen 3 small tortoiseshells this year, and locally at least, numbers of other hibernators such as peacocks and brimstones are not what they might be.
Nevertheless, as some species struggle, we should enjoy those that boom. In the past week or so, we have added small copper and wall brown to our ‘garden list’ (taking it up to 23 species), and some of the most striking flyers, marbled whites and common blues, have dazzled in their masses.